Marinara Sauce Vs Spaghetti Sauce

If you have been to any Italian restaurant, you are familiar with marinara and spaghetti sauces. They are commonly used in pasta dishes but can also work with other dishes. Both these sauces are good choices for meals for the entire family.

Marinara sauce is primarily made from tomato paste, while spaghetti sauce is any sauce that is mixed in a spaghetti dish. This comparison guide looks at the similarities and differences between these two sauces to help you understand more about them.

What is Marinara Sauce?

If you know what tomato sauce is, you also know marinara sauce. Marinara is a thinner tomato sauce made of tomatoes, herbs such as oregano, garlic, red pepper, and onions. You can add other spices, olives, capers, and wine if you like.

The best marinara is made using plum or paste tomatoes. This sauce is popular in Italian-American cuisine. However, the original marinara made in Italy does not contain any seafood, vegetables, meat, or cheese.

What is Spaghetti Sauce?

Spaghetti sauce is any sauce made from pasta. Spaghetti is long, thin, and solid; it comes in a cylindrical shape. You can use different types of pasta such as manicotti, lasagna, or spaghetti noodles to make spaghetti sauce. Most spaghetti sauces have vegetables, meat, spices, and seasonings.

Marinara vs. Spaghetti Sauce

The following is a comparison of the two sauces.


One of the ingredients used in making spaghetti sauce is meat, and therefore it has a meaty flavor. On the other hand, marinara has ingredients, giving the sauce a complex flavor. You can easily pick out individual flavors from the different ingredients. If you want a very strong flavor in the dish you are preparing, spaghetti sauce it is.


As already mentioned, marinara does not contain meat, making the sauce thinner in texture than pasta sauce. Therefore, marinara is the best to make a light meal with a thin sauce.


You will need pre-cooked meat to make pasta sauce. It would help let it simmer for long to achieve the desired texture. Pasta sauce also needs more ingredients. Overall, it will take a long to prepare pasta sauce. Marinara takes a short time, it has fewer ingredients, and you do not need to simmer it for long.


There is not much difference when it comes to ingredients. What sets these two sauces apart is that spaghetti sauce requires meat while marinara does not.

What do they have in common?

You probably already know it, tomatoes! The primary and most important ingredient of both of these sauces is tomatoes. The tomatoes cause both sauces to become red. They have similar consistency and texture, and you can use them for the same purpose. If you prepare a dish that requires marinara sauce and don’t have it, spaghetti sauce works just the same.

What are the differences?

  • Spaghetti sauce is more complex, is rich in flavor, and requires many ingredients.
  • Marinara needs few ingredients and fewer minutes to prepare.
  • Marinara is a dipping sauce, while spaghetti is not.
  • Marinara has a thinner texture than spaghetti.
  • Spaghetti sauce contains meat while marinara does not.

How to Thicken Marinara and Pasta Sauces

You can use different approaches to thicken either marinara or pasta sauce. First, you need to let the sauce simmer for some time until it reaches your desired level of consistency. Then pop it in a slow cooker.

It would help to create a cornstarch slurry to mix in the sauce. Next, feel free to add tomato sauce and a roux. Finally, complete the thickening by adding mashed potatoes. You now have thicker marinara.

Also Read: Pizza Sauce Vs Pasta Sauce – In-Depth Comparison

Frequently Asked Questions

Are both sauces prepared the same way?

No! Spaghetti sauce is prepared differently from marinara sauce. Spaghetti sauce needs to be sautéed with garlic and onions before adding meat and other ingredients, then let it simmer for about 30minutes.
The marinara sauce needs quick prepping (10 or fewer minutes). Then, all you need is to boil the sauce and add pasta. There is no need to sauté onions and garlic.


Now you know if you thought the marinara sauce was the same as spaghetti sauce. You can enjoy both sauces differently, one as a dip in and not. Both sauces can, however, work interchangeably. If you don’t have one, the other can work just fine.

Spaghetti sauce can be tomato-based or not, just as marinara can be spaghetti sauce. Now that you know the ingredients used, the next time you visit a grocery store, you will be particular about the kind of ingredients you want to prepare the sauce.


Leave a Comment